Thursday, November 6, 2014

(Late) NB of the Week


Tooth & Claw #1
Written by Kurt Busiek
Drawn by Benjamin Dewey

If you've read comics (or my blog) at some point in the last twenty years, you likely know who Kurt Busiek is. If not by name, definitely by title. The man has written most every character out there from DC and Marvel and lots of "smaller" characters like Vampirella, Shadowhawk, Conan, Ninjak and Darkman. He's also the words behind some amazing stories like JLA/Avengers, Arrowsmith and Superman: Secret Identity. He and George Perez are responsible for an Avengers run that is held in very high regard from most, avid Avengers fans (or at least was. Opinions could change over the years). And oh yeah, he's half responsible for a little mini called Marvels with a small time artist named Alex Ross. He ringing a bell now? Yesterday started his new series from Image, Tooth & Claw, and if this first issue is the example of what we can expect, I'm extremely hopeful for this one.
Tooth & Claw, so far, is about magic and survival. It's a world where the citizens are anthropomorphic animals and all live in lush fantasy (except the poor, I assume, but you get the setting better this way). The story begins with Dunstan (a dog and an obvious focal point for the future) as he begins to follow his father, the trademaster of their home, the floating city Keneil. Shortly, all neighboring city officials begin to arrive as they discuss a very important matter: magic is fading. It can no longer support their living the way it has. Gharta the Seeker has a plan: they will use magics to reach back in time, before magic, and pull forward The Great Champion. The one who opened the gates of magic when facing the world's destruction many years ago. Many agree as many others disagree but it is ultimately shut down. But that won't stop them. Gharta leads the believers to a sacred place as they prepare to conjure the spell and save their way of life. Believe it or not, things go horribly wrong. To compensate for the lack of magic their spells bring, the gateway draws from the magic used to keep Keneil floating. With an explosion (of magic and bright colors, the best king of explosion to have), Keneil is ripped in have and falls to the Plains below. As survivors come to, they search for others that may be buried but there is much death around, including Dunstan's father. They dig and salvage and bury their dead for many hours until a green light breaks through the ruble. Out comes Gharta. She tells them all this was a horrible tragedy that she never imagined but that it was all for a greater good. They did it. They have brought the Champion. Our issue ends with everybody gathering around the captured Champion (never showing us him) and other clans of animals taking notice of the crashed wreckage. Impending doom is on it's way and I have a feeling the people of Keneil have no clue how to fight it.
I don't really like fantasy. Typically I can't ever follow or remember all the made up names and places and languages and on that, I can't connect with most characters that live in magic and dragons and all the fantasy stuff that fantasy worlds have. But that's not to say there aren't amazing stories. Thanks to visual mediums, stories like The Hobbit and Game of Thrones are even larger now then ever, bringing millions in seemingly ever week somehow. And with comics, I may have found a fantasy story I can really get behind. The writing was simple for a first issue and still fantastic. The art is amazing and I think we could be talking about Dewey quite a lot from this series. For me, this issue was one of those rare gems. No name series, brand new everything and brilliant. I can see this being a series that takes off after it's first year, leaving collectors scrambling for the early issues.

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